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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

An Invitation to Worship

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Nov
An Invitation to Worship
Sounds like … the Sunday morning sounds of Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Purpose, and Stephen Hurd.At a glance … more a tried-and-true contemporary gospel service than a praise-and-worship display, Byron Cage continues to offer what has worked well for him in the past. Track Listing I Will Bless the Lord I Will Bless the Lord (Reprise) We Love You (with J. Moss) Medley: Majesty Medley: Praise the Name of Jesus Medley: In Case You've Forgotten Breathe Rain on Me He Reigns Broken but I'm Healed Holy Holy Holy Lift Him Up Special Place Praise Him Worship the King Invitation Interlude: Closing Prayer

Gospel music has a king, a queen, a first lady, a joy princess, and just about any distinction—either regal or imagined—its pundits decide to create. Recently, Dorinda Clark-Cole was dubbed "The Rose of Gospel," whatever that means. In a similar vein, Byron Cage boasts the title of "Prince of Praise," a royal title that rightfully became his after his major-label debut, Live at New Birth Cathedral, became a multiple Stellar Award-winning smash. For An Invitation to Worship, the former Purpose frontman returns to New Birth, the Atlanta mega-church where he recorded his previous album.

But instead of choirmaster Kurt Carr—who produced his first GospoCentric disc—Cage tapped the typically urban-minded production team PAJAM for assistance. Fortunately, they do an admirable job of not turning this into a hip-hop mise-en-scène, capably capturing the contemporary gospel environment of Cage's previous albums. Although they don't deviate from the artist's vision, at times they get tempted to let their colors show, as in the rhythmic opener "I Will Bless the Lord." Later, the producers let loose even more with the infectious "Worship the King," a track with enough cadence to render it a fine dance-worthy number, but overall not as worshipful as its title may imply.

Therein lies the major limitation of Invitation to Worship. Blame it on the way it was recorded or Cage's timidity in actually leading his congregation, but for the most part, all you hear is the vocalist bidding everyone to sing and his choir obediently following suit. But rarely do you hear the audience engaged in song. Compositionally, it's a very good gospel recording—top-notch musicianship, inspiring praise material, tight arrangements, great choral work—but as a corporate, church-based project, the audio portion makes it seem like congregants are simply watching from the sidelines. It's a nicely presented Invitation, but the question is whether or not it's one that guests can readily respond to.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.